2014 isn’t a year about brand new innovation in mobile and cool new things. It’s the year that mobile puts the final nail in the coffin of everything that came before. It’s the year where mobile is all grown up and focused on rapidly expanding that growth to eat everything that has come before it. If your company was started before the launch of the first iPhone, you should be worried. Here are my predictions for how it will all come about.
The web will become more like native apps. It’s not about native vs web anymore, it’s about the right use cases for web or native. In news and shopping, which are driven by search and social, the web makes a ton of sense. In these cases, the experience of the web is going to have to adapt to be much more like native apps. If you are a publisher or commerce provider without being mobile-first, you won’t be around for a while. Their users will go elsewhere and the lack of monetization will bankrupt their business.
Native apps will become more like the Web. Native apps will start to behave more like the web due to cards and deeplinking. Brands that advertise on native apps along with the web will want to be able to link to specific pages and deeplinking capabilities will permute with Twitter cards and Google Kit Kat. The difference between the web and native apps will be tough to tell. Both will be great experiences and have linking capabilities. Users will choose them based upon the right use case.
Android as we know it will be dead, long live Android. Android itself is dead. Every phone manufacturer that matters and is Apple has their own fork of Android — including Google itself with Motorola. We need to not think of Android as Android, but as Samsung/Amazon/Googlerola/HTC etc. With their own version of Android, each manufacturer will start to have unique offerings that make them stand out. Android will continue to grow in the smartphone market, but you won’t think of Android, you will think of the manufacturer.
China will give Apple a huge boost. Apple’s iPhone is already big in China, but only to the grey market. At the end of the year, the iPhone will officially be available in China mobile stores. This is a huge untapped market for Apple, especially with the addition of a slightly cheaper model. It’s also a chance to take market share from Android.
Twitter will solidify itself as the dominant mobile platform of our era. Twitter has always been a mobile first platform. Many of the first uses were people subscribing via text messages and we have 140 characters due to the 160 character limit of text messaging. This was their philosophy back in 2006. Twitter is to information discovery in mobile, what Google was to information discovery in desktop. The creation of Twitter cards is going to make Twitter the mobile distribution powerhouse that Google was in the desktop first era.
Mobile “banner ads” will begin the death spiral that desktop computing is on. Facebook, Pandora, and Twitter account for close to 20% of all mobile ad sales. An ad on all three of these platforms is “native” to the user experience. You cannot buy a banner ad on the mobile version of their platforms. Google is the other 80%, but their first party ads (which are a big part) are the OG “native ads” in the search experience. At this point, it’s fair to say that most mobile buyers aren’t spending money on banner ads. They’re spending money on platforms with advertising that is native to the user experience. The spenders are comfortable and the platforms aren’t giving in to banner ads. This means the mobile banner ad will start to go on the death spiral that the PC has been on. If the banner ad on mobile goes away over the next 5 years and everything becomes mobile, then the banner ad will officially die.
Growth venture funding will flow for the mobile winners. This year isn’t about figuring out new things in mobile. It’s about the companies that have had incredible growth and are poised to go in for the kill. We’re talking about the Ubers and Evernotes of the world. If you’re a company that has dominated a large category in mobile and was started in the past four years, you’re poised to raise a lot of venture capital. Mobile has had time to mature and it’s clear who the winners are.
Wearables will continue to gain interest, but won’t go mainstream. Wearables continue to gain interest with Google Glass going public and others fast following. I foresee that Apple won’t make a play here, but the rumors will continue. Eventually there will be a new wave of post PC devices – Apple TV, wearables, internet of things, etc., but right now it’s about the first era of mobile truly maturing.
The great part about the technology industry is that anything is possible and things move fast. These predictions are easily crazy and easily just as realistic. It’s about having a gut feeling, a thesis, and then going with it.